Empowering Nurses at the Bedside and in Business

Two Sides To Every Story

Erin Marie Olszewski is an Army combat veteran who served our country on the front lines in Iraq during Desert Storm.   Earlier this year, as a nurse, she traveled from her Florida home to work at Elmhurst Hospital in New York to work on the COVID unit.

Having worked in an ICU COVID unit in the Sunshine State, she was shocked to witness the discrepancies in the way patients in New York were treated as contrasted to those in Florida.  While it is true that at the time Florida did not have near the numbers of New York, she was devastated by the standard of care in the Big Apple.

There, in the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Olszewski found patients who tested negative for COVID-19 were being put on COVID only floors, a surefire way to contract the disease.

Seeing this procedure, as well as noticing other healthcare failings such as lax sanitation measures, she decided to go undercover and record conversations with nurses and physicians.  When she began sharing on social media what she found, she was fired.  From her social media sharings, she then was the subject of a number of interviews and eventually a book deal was offered to her.

The criticism on speaking her truth since has been, to say the least, interesting.  People criticized Ms. Olszewski for videotaping her colleagues without their knowledge or consent and for speaking out on vaccine safety.  Others are applauding her for exposing what they feel is the truth and are grateful that she has brought to light these injustices.

I certainly don’t believe it’s proper to video patient’s medical records (even redacting personal information) as this is a flat-out violation of HIPAA.  However, it is sad that she is being crucified in the media for speaking her truth.  The reason nurses are so disempowered is because we are afraid to speak our own truth for exactly what is happening to Ms. Olszewski.

I will leave it up to your own decision on the truth and her findings however I will say that until nurses stick together and support each other, we will never have the power that we would like in our profession.

In addition, I would say that even if you don’t support Ms. Olszewski or believe the merits of what she says, then please be respectful and “agree to disagree” rather than cutting down someone for speaking their truth.  The civility of the nursing profession is in our hands.

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